September 18, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

News flash: George Bush deserves credit for iPS cells?

George Bush deserves credit for iPS cells? No way.

Bush-on-stem-cells
George Bush talking stem cells.

One of the weapons in the war against stem cell therapies is the use of a seemingly simple word: “ethical”.

What does it mean to do ethical science in general and in particular what is ethical stem cell research?

Who decides?

According to the opponents of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research, that line of research is unethical and even immoral and it is they who get to make those decisions for the rest of us.

In contrast, they pronounce, adult stem cell research and research on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are ethical.

The implication from their attempting to force other people to take on their definitions of “ethical” stem cell research is that scientists and members of the public who support ESC research are bad people, immoral people. Maybe even people who will go to hell.

But what makes adult stem cells and IPSC ethical, while ESC is supposedly not ethical? The reality is that it is the religious and narrow personal beliefs of the opponents of ESC research, who in fact are a minority in this country and around the world.

Today a piece at the Secondhand Smoke blog argued these assumptions heralding the claim that iPSC are virtually identical to ESC, but of course are the moral alternative.

The piece begins “Ethical stem cell research continues to advance.”

As opposed to the unethical kind and those doing that research that are on a rollercoaster to hell?

One thing I do agree with the author about is that human reproductive cloning should be outlawed in the U.S.

The thing I found most incredibly about this article is the assertion that really it is the George Bush policies on human ES cells that catalyzed the development (at least in part) of alternatives to ESC…meaning iPS cells.

Wow, I had no idea that Jr. was the one who deserves the credit. When Yamanaka gets his Nobel Prize for iPS cells, should G.W. also get one too as part of the team?

My belief is that most moral stem cell research is that which can help the most people using adult stem cells, iPSC, and ESC because each will be powerful for different disease states.  Those who oppose ESC research as unethical are in effect telling millions of patients who might helped by such technology “sorry, you have the wrong disease, go ahead and suffer and die because current medical technology can’t help you!”

To me that sounds unethical.

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